Oh No, Not My Laptop! - Laptops and Fertility

It seems a couple of the things in life that really appeal to men are technology and power. Whatever the reason, when the latest-greatest technology hits the market, men go shopping. True, the advances have greatly enhanced the ability of many men to be more productive in their work and to even be able to stay home more and work from a home office. That's the good news and we're always in the market for good news. Then, there's "the other news".

The Great Balancing Act

In a small study done at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 2004, lead researcher Dr. Yefim Sheynkin found that: "Laptops can reach internal operating temperatures of over 70 degrees Celsius." He continued: "They are frequently positioned close to the scrotum, and as well as being capable of producing direct local heat, they require the user to sit with his thighs close together to balance the machine, which traps the scrotum between the thighs."

Heating Things Up

The researchers measured the temperature changes to the scrotum of the volunteers over a period of several hours. Different seating positions were measured with a laptop sitting upon the laps of these men. It was noted that just sitting with the thighs together, which is necessary to just balance a laptop, scrotal temperatures rose by 2.1 degrees Celsius. When men sat with their thighs close together with a laptop on them, in this position the average temperatures increased by 2.6C on the left of the scrotum and 2.8C on the right.

Cool It To Be Effective

Dr. Sheynkin said: "The body needs to maintain a proper testicular temperature for normal sperm production and development (spermatogenesis). We don't know the exact frequency and time of heat exposure capable of producing reversible or irreversible changes in spermatogenesis. But, previous studies suggest that 1 degree Celsius above the baseline is the possible minimal thermal gradient."

Heads Up for Teens as Well as Men

Dr. Sheynkin also indicated that changes may be reversible; however, repetitive use of a laptop in this fashion could result in permanent damage. "Until further studies provide more information on this type of thermal exposure, teenage boys and young men may consider limiting their use of laptop computers on their laps," he said.

Dr. Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in Andrology at the University of Sheffield, speaking on behalf of the British Fertility Society, said: "We already know that increasing the temperature of the testicles can affect sperm production. It is worrying that having a laptop on your knees for only an hour can increase the temperature of the scrotum so significantly."

He added that: "Further work is needed to see if regular laptop use is a risk factor in male fertility."

A Word to the Wise - Be Careful

It would definitely be good practice for men (and teenage boys) to put their laptops on solid surfaces away from their bodies in order to operate them. For men who are trying to conceive with their partners, Dr. Pacey's following remark should ring loudly: "Men who use laptops regularly should be very careful"


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